Friday, April 18, 2014

Chadors and Monokinis

A woman's sexuality has been the focus of male attention since the dawn of time. Of course we couldn't propagate the species if a built in electromagnetic attraction hadn't been part of the original design. But how cultures have managed this inevitable force between males and females has an evolution as diverse as the flora and fauna of Madagascar.

Consider the chador and its many varieties, with some so draconian as to only allow slits for the eyes. Recently, my sister had a stop over at the Dubai airport, where she reported seeing women in full combat chadors (those slits are redolent of army tanks with their peep holes). She posed an interesting question: how can you tell who's who? One possible answer are the shoes. She did see Manolo Blahniks and other uber-expensive footwear on these body bags called chadors, but identifing a woman by her shoes could be dicey in a rich country like Dubai, where the female's closet is likely to have a whole wing devoted to footwear.

Moving on, consider the French culture of swim wear: monokinis. For the uninitiated, this is a bikini minus the top, though not necessarily indicating a price reduction of 50%. Which also signifies that a woman's breasts are exposed to every Tom, Dick and Harry who happen to be swimming at the same beach or pool. While some might regard bare-breasted women as the fashion statement of tribal women in Africa or New Guinea, the sophisticated French also seem to be unashamed of that built-in feature of the female model.

And last but not least, at the Yangon airport in Myanmar, a huge illuminated wall panel displays a very blonde, blue-eyed woman in a delicately suggestive sheer blouse - selling perfume. Nevermind that the females of this country all have beautiful black locks, golden skin, and wear long skirts and blouses with sleeves. Obviously, the western version of female allure has infiltrated this previously closed-off nation.

The point? Simply, since Eve tempted Adam with the apple, people in their remote parts of the world have dealt with female sexuality in radically different ways - and most of them dictated by their fathers, husbands, brothers, male politicians and god help us - the clergy.

Women, please wear whatever you please, but be prepared to be at the vanguard of a cultural revolution that may come with a price.

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